Inside the Sketchbook of Amsterdam Artist Chris Berens

by Jane KenoyerPosted on

Hi-Fructose is doing a series called Inside the Sketchbook where talented artists from all over the world allow us the opportunity to enter one of the more personal aspects of their creative process, their sketchbooks. The amazing work of Amsterdam artist Chris Berens, was featured in Hi-Fructose Volume 9, today we have the special opportunity to peak inside his leather bound sketchbooks. – Jane Kenoyer

Have you always kept a sketchbook?

I have. Since I can remember, I’ve always had and kept a sketchbook. I always carry one, no matter where I go. Weddings, funerals, groceries, watching TV, going to bed.. As soon as I sit down, I put it on the table. It calms me down having it in sight.


Why is it important for you to keep a sketchbook?

There’s a lot going on in my mind. This is a way to release tension. Once it’s in the book, it’s out of my system. It’s for no one to see really, just for me. I don’t make nice or good sketches. Unlike when I’m painting, when the idea is there, whether it’s the hint of a drawing or just a word or 2, I turn the page.

Do you often sketch out ideas before working them into finished pieces?

Actually, no, I never sketch for a painting. What I do do, is when I’m working on a painting, I draw the painting from memory. Just to go over the situation once more. It’s not sketching or plotting out a work, it’s more like when you’re on the phone (back in the day when there were land lines and you had to stay put when on the phone) you go over the outlines of the woman on the cover of the phonebook, or something from a shopping catalogue. I just ease my mind by mindlessly going over the outlines of something that is very much alive inside my head. My daughter does it with her fingers. When she’s at ease, not really doing anything, daydreaming, she lets her little fingers follow the shape of her stuffed animal ome Rik, or the placemat underneath her plate, or my face. I think it’s the same thing.

What brand of sketchbook do you use?

Winsor & Newton Artists Leather Bound Journal – A6

Unfortunately they don’t make those any longer. I still have 8 of them. But once they’re full, I’m all out. I have searched literally everywhere and there is not It makes me very uncomfortable thinking about that. So if there’s anyone out there that knows where to find them, please let me know!

What are some good sketching tips and habits that you can share with our readers?

Feel no shame or sense of vanity, pride or any restraint. No one will ever see what you’re doing, or will judge you by your sketches. What works for me, is to never use an eraser and never go over the same line twice. When you’re a kid, you’re taught not to press on your pencil, to hold it as parallel to the paper as possible, loosely in your hand and when drawing -say- a circle, do it in short shrugging motions. It’s like, I don’t know, you know, like, say, for example, or, I don’t know, sorry, I didn’t mean to, or, ehm, in drawing. Press hard, pencil perpendicular to the paper, one motion, one time. The thing is not to be afraid to screw up. You can’t screw up. It’s supposed to be crooked. it’s supposed to be ugly. It’s supposed to be unreadable. It’s supposed to be obscene and offending. It’s supposed to be exactly the way you just did it.

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